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Muslim killed on New Year’s Day highlights violent Islamophobia in India

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News Analysis |

A Muslim has been beaten to death in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand after reportedly asking a group to stop playing loud music on New Year’s Day. This latest atrocity emphasizes a campaign of terror aimed at the Muslim community inside the Hindutva dominated state of India.

The incident happened in Mandar, a town close to the state capital, Ranchi. People blocked the national motorway on Tuesday to demand the arrest of suspects but police eventually cleared the blockade.

Extra security personnel have been deployed in the area to keep the peace between Muslim and Hindu communities. Waseem Ansari, 19, worked as a daily wage labourer in Pune and had returned to his village a couple of days ago.

On account of the brutal killings of Muslims – from Mohammed Akhlaq (on September 28th, 2015) to Muhammad Afzal – the minority community feels insecurity in every part of the country.

A senior police officer gave BBC Hindi an account of the incident: “Preliminary inquiry suggests that a group was playing loud music to celebrate New Year’s Day. “Waseem Ansari and two of his friends approached the group and told them to stop playing loud music. This led to an argument and Waseem was attacked by the group. It seems he was hit by one of the sharp instruments used in cooking.

“We have requested the two communities maintain peace. The suspects will be arrested soon.” Hasibul Ansari, who lives in the same village as the victim, told BBC Hindi: “These people were partying near a Muslim graveyard. When Waseem told them to stop, they killed him.

Read more: BJP condemns Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary celebrations

“His friends were lucky that they managed to escape in time. I am very sure they would have been killed too if they had not escaped.” Correspondents say there are fears that communal and religious divisions are widening in India, with minorities feeling they are not sufficiently protected.

The latest murder comes at the heels of a horrific murder committed against a Muslim laborer by a Saffron terrorist. A Muslim man was hacked and burned to death in India’s western state of Rajasthan by a Hindu, Shambu Lal Regar.

The attack on Muslims in north India has been marked by silence from the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindutva fundamentalist party that rules all the northern states except Punjab and Delhi

The police found the half-burned body of the victim on Thursday morning on a street in Rajsamand, over 300 km away from the state capital Jaipur. Shambu Lal had tried to raise money for a campaign against minority Muslims by issuing an appeal for donations with a video he took and posted online showing him killing his Muslim victim.

In November, three Muslim clerics were attacked by a group of men with sharp objects aboard a train in India’s Uttar Pradesh province on Thursday. This latest attack only heightens fears for the minority community that already feels under siege since the rise to power by Hindutva fundamentalist Narendara Modi.

Read more: RSS affiliated journalist killing sparks fear of social discord in India

According to media sources the three clerics were attacked by six to seven men who also allegedly tried to throw them off the train. The clerics reportedly had an argument with their assailants over covering their heads and then were attacked with iron rods and sticks as they got off the train.

The victims Maulvi Gulzar, Israr, and Abrar have all been admitted to a hospital according to reports. The three men who boarded a passenger train at Delhi last night were on their way to a village in Baghpat when they had a tiff with some youth who allegedly beat them up, Superintendent of Police Baghpat Jaiprakash Singh was quoted as saying.

Shambu Lal had tried to raise money for a campaign against minority Muslims by issuing an appeal for donations with a video he took and posted online showing him killing his Muslim victim.

Earlier in the same month, a Muslim man was shot dead by alleged cow vigilantes, and his body was thrown onto railway tracks in Rajasthan’s Alwar. The victim was found dead on the railway lines between Ramgarh and Jadoli Ka Bas on November 10th. Although the police are still awaiting the post-mortem reports, the case looks like a shoot-out and eventual decapitation after a train ran over the dumped body.

Read more: Hindutva Terror: Indian blast case suggests bleak scenario for Pakistan

In June, 16-year-old Junaid Khan died and his cousins were wounded after an assault on a train near Delhi by a mob of 20 that shouted abuse and called them “anti-nationals” and “beef-eaters”. The police had said that the dispute started over seats, and the man who argued with Junaid came back to the train with a mob from his village.

The police found the half-burned body of the victim on Thursday morning on a street in Rajsamand, over 300 km away from the state capital Jaipur.

The attack on Muslims in north India has been marked by silence from the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindutva fundamentalist party that rules all the northern states except Punjab and Delhi. In fact, there has been a conscious attempt to divorce Islam and Muslims from the national ethos. Last year’s President’s Ramadan Iftar party was notable for the complete absence of Hindu state ministers.

Read more: Indian Democracy at Crossroads

On account of the brutal killings of Muslims – from Mohammed Akhlaq (on September 28th, 2015) to Muhammad Afzal (on December 8th, 2017) – the minority community feels insecurity in every part of the country. The roots of this hate lie in the rise of extremist Hindutva thought and the overall rise of Islamophobia across India.


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